School for children with autism to close after 40 years

Posted: Updated:
BROOKLYN -

The Hospital Clinic Home Center, a school for children with autism, is closing down at the end of this month after 40 years of work.

Teachers and parents say the end is devastating.

Friday was graduation day for 5-year-old Austin Thorpe and other current students.

"He says, 'Hi mommy, hi daddy,'" says Austin's mother, Keisha Thorpe. "He knows his sister. He can count. He can read. My son is doing amazing."

Thorpe credits the center with helping her son reach those milestones.

"The teachers are great," she says. "It feels so good that the child started the school not speaking, but by the time they finish, they're speaking."

But this year's graduation is the school's last because the state could no longer provide funding, according to the founder.

"I can't sleep at night, and I cried a lot," says Frieda Spivack, the center's executive director. "This is not just a school, it's a group of people, and it's a group of children who are affected."

Una Belloss, a teacher at the school for 30 years, says three other similar schools are closing in Brooklyn as well.

"I'm so devastated that the community will not have what we offer," she says.

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